Saturday, October 31, 2009

Freja's Pumpkin


Drawn on the pumpkin by Freja, cut out by me. I love her people.
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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Mmmm, cake.

I've been having lots of fun the last couple of weeks making things from the Felt & Stitch workshop. I can't share any pictures from that until it finishes next week, but I can show you the cupcake pincushions I've made from Betz's book Warm Fuzzies. Only problem is they can't be eaten, but that's okay, I have a plan to get Peder to take me to Sugar Cupcakery in Milford for my birthday treat next weekend.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Some Halloween decorations...

A felt banner.
A twiggy tree.
A pipecleaner spider...
...and his friends.
Another felt banner.
Some decorated cookies.
Ghosts on the stairs.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Our Halloween Costumes


Can you tell what we were supposed to be?

Our neighbours had an adults-only Halloween party on Saturday night which was a great opportunity for us to go out for once, because I was able to pop back to Magnus when he woke up. Peder's costume was made with a cheap poker set, an old waistcoat of his (which he has been hanging on to since I've known him!) and lots of hot glue. Mine was made from some pretty shimmery blue fabric, a kit of foam fish (which Freja helped stick together) and some safety pins. If you haven't worked it out yet here's a clue - we were supposed to be a typical British fast-food meal...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Project Mincemeat

This will be our third Christmas in this house and in the US. The first year we had only been in our house a few weeks and I was pregnant with Magnus, so there wasn't much spare energy around for Christmas preparations. My parents were here and my Mum did all the cooking. Last year Peder's parents came over so we celebrated Swedish style, which again meant that I didn't have to do much. This year my parents are coming again, but I thought it was about time I put a little bit of effort into establishing some Christmas traditions of our own. I thought mincemeat would be a good place to start for two reasons, you can only really buy one pretty ropey brand here and two, I don't like orange so won't eat it anyway. I decided to give Delia's recipe a go with a few tweaks to remove the orange. I chose this one because you heat it up to melt the suet and coat all the ingredients so I'm hoping that will help the apples keep well.
So, recipe in hand I went off grocery shopping and managed to find most of the ingredients apart from the suet and the mixed peel. I think I found sultanas, although they were called white raisins and actually just looked like very big normal raisins. The peel was easy, I used a Jane Grigson recipe and made some candied lemon peel myself. The suet was a bit trickier. People don't eat animal fat here you know, it's too unhealthy :) All the Googling I did suggested that suet is used to feed birds and could be obtained from butchers. I called a local butcher but he said it was a seasonal product and it was still too warm for them to stock it. Not much use if I wanted my mincemeat to have a bit of time to mature before Christmas. In the end I discovered, from the Cincy Localvore Yahoo group that Greenacres Farm had some.
I'm not quite sure what I was expecting, I suppose a nice little foil wrapped block like butter, but no, this was a big hunk of frozen raw animal fat. Nice. Definitely not in a state to be put directly into mince pies. Anyway, as you can see from the picture I found out how to melt the fat and strain it so it was nice and clear, and a much better state for mincemeat production. The tweaks I made to the recipe were to use apple juice instead of orange, and only put in the candied lemon peel. I also had to play around with the spices a bit as I didn't have Mixed Spice. I think I used fresh nutmeg, cinnamon and a litle bit of ginger. I doubled the recipe so was expecting about 6 jars but ended up with 4, each weighing about 1.25lb. They are now sitting in a cupboard waiting for us to get Halloween and Thanksgiving out of the way.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Some craft room progress...

I've had a little bit of time this weekend to do some sorting out in my craft room in preparation for the Felt & Stitch workshop that starts today. I won't be able to post about anything I make with that until after the workshop ends, but here's how the room is right now. There's still a way to go (it's lucky the tablecloths reach the floor because there are a lot of boxes underneath!) but I'm happy with how it's shaping up. I found the big table and the wall shelves in Goodwill, the red and white tablecloth fabric at a yard sale, and the chair is from Ikea. I gave the shelves a quick lick of Copenhagen blue paint and some varnish, and enlisted Peder's help last night to put them up. Despite our best efforts the one for the scissors is a bit wonky, but it was getting late so we left it. Maybe once I get a bit more up on the walls it won't be so noticeable? :)

I'm still planning a few more Halloween decorations with this little lot so I'll try and post some pictures of those when they're done.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Going batty.

I've volunteered to host a Halloween party for one of our playgroups but at the moment, apart from our 5 little pumpkins collected out and about, we have hardly any decorations. I could go out and buy a whole load of plastic rubbish that we stick up once and throw away, but I thought it would a lot nicer to try and make some decorations that we could use year after year. The kids coming will be mostly aged 3 and under so I don't want anything too scary, I think I'll mainly stick to cut-out shapes like pumpkins, ghosts, owls, cats.

These bats are the result of my first attempt. I just cut out the shape from felt and used my new glue gun to stick them onto a clothes peg. The peg works well to hold the body part rigid and makes it easy to attach the bats around the house. It was pure fluke that the felt I had was just bigger than the clothespegs so none of the peg shows when they're up (I considered painting them but decided they didn't need it). The felt is cheap non-wool craft felt with purple sparkly bits running through it. I'm quite pleased with them, might have to go and find some more cheap felt in Halloween colours, I'm saving my nice wool stuff for the Betz White workshop which starts next week.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

A mini glue gun project

That's a mini project, not a mini glue gun. I flicked through the Crafty Mama book the other day and just about every project seemed to require a hot-melt glue gun. I happened to find one for $2 soon afterwards so decided to bring it home and see what I could do with it. I haven't used one in a long time, probably not since school, so I thought a small project would be a good place to start. I want to put up some pinboards in my craft room so I've been keeping an eye out for cork. In Ikea the other day I found these cork trivets which I thought would make lovely little pinboards. So, glue-gun + cork trivet + fabric + drawing pins + buttons + double-sided tape to stick it up with, and I now have somewhere on the inside of my kitchen cupboard to pin up my plan of what's for dinner each night. I found that the glue dried really fast so I had to work quickly, there are a few lumps where I wasn't quick enough. Next time I will make sure I cover the surface I'm working on and maybe wear an apron so I don't get glue on my top. Might make another one for my shopping list...